I was one of those lucky moms whose baby just magically started sleeping through the night on her own. Sleep training; sleep techniques; books on sleep -- none of that was ever a discussion in our house, because my baby ruled when it came to night-night. At around 12 weeks, the week I was set to go back to work, my little girl went to sleep around 8 and woke up at 7 -- and for well over a year, that was her pattern. Even when she was teething, she rarely woke up. And when she did, all it took was a diaper change and some cuddles, and she was back to sleep, without so much as a whimper.
But she just learned to climb out of her crib and it seriously threw a wrench into our perfect situation.
A little background info: My daughter is just shy of being 21 months, and our sleep issues actually started a little over a month ago when we traveled for Christmas. We brought a Baby Bjorn Travel Crib with us to my in-laws' home in Chicago, and on night one, when she realized she could climb out, it was lights out.
For the rest of the trip, my daughter didn't sleep -- literally. We tried everything. Bringing her into bed with us -- wanted nothing to do with it. Buying her a crib, like the one she had at home -- didn't care. Going on a drive with her at 1 in the morning -- she simply repeated the name of my brother-in-law's girlfriend over and over. "Trista, Trista, Trista ..." She took some cat naps here and there in bed with my husband and me, but it was obvious she was very unhappy -- and very, very tired.
When we got back, we hoped everything would go back to normal, and after a few rough nights, it did. Well, it didn't go back to how things were before we left (my daughter had taken to sleeping standing up or sitting the first few nights), but the important thing was that she was getting sleep at night. (Naps were a different story.)
But then she climbed out of her crib. The crib she once loved so much. The crib she used to point at and say, "night night" when she was tired. Game over.
I saw her do it on the video monitor, and it was impressive as hell. There was no thud, no fall. She simply swung her leg over and slid down like she was in a baby Bond movie. My husband and I were dumbfounded and also wondering what the hell we should do about bedtime that night.
I asked a few people what they thought and, naturally, went to the Internet, and what we wound up doing was taking everything out of her room; bolting her furniture to the wall; and surrounding her crib with rugs and pillows (yes, there's a baby gate, as well). That night, when we put her down, she never even attempted to get out. We were back in business. Until nap time the next day.
The following day, my daughter climbed out of her crib around four times, and at that point, even though she was never falling and was safe, it felt a bit irresponsible to not change something about the situation.
We removed one side of the crib (it's an IKEA Gulliver crib) and put up one of those mesh guard rails, so she wouldn't roll off. We had the genius idea of having my daughter get super sleepy on the couch during stories, milk, etc., like she always does, and then putting her in, never having her know about the change. No bueno. As soon as her head poked through the side of the mesh rail, she was up.
My husband sat with my daughter for an hour, as she's extremely attached to me and goes insane when I leave the room. But she never went to bed. When he left the room, she got up and started crying. At this point, I had to go in and see what I could do. My intention was to be loving but firm in that it was time for sleep, but she was too worked up, so I sat with her and rubbed her back and sang her songs. She calmed down, but when I left the room, she jumped off the bed and started crying. For 30 seconds.
Before I had even gotten down the stairs, she was asleep on the floor by the door. Hard. Snoring. My husband and I ate dinner, and after some discussion, I decided to go up and move her to her bed. Bad idea!
The minute I picked my daughter up, she started crying and going bonkers again. I calmed her down and when I left the room, again, she was on the floor. We left her, as sleep on the floor is better than no sleep at all. And, as of now, that's where she sleeps.
My daughter now has two options for sleep: Her bed, which, in my opinion, is more comfortable; and the bed I made up for her on the floor. The past few nights, she's chosen to sleep on the floor bed the entire night, and when she wakes up, she quietly plays with her toys for a few minutes before I go in and join her. From what I've read, it seems like she may be trying to assert some of her own power (which is happening in many aspects of her life these days), so why not let her pick where she sleeps? She's safe; she's comfortable; and she's well-rested. Sure, I'd prefer it if she slept on a mattress, but I have confidence that, when she's ready, she will. I found a lot of helpful info on toddler rooms and the terrible twos on the Montessori website, if you're interested. And, no, I don't have an agenda.
So, the moral of the story here, parents, is if your toddler sleeps on the floor -- big deal! I freaked out for about an hour over the situation, but then I made the decision to say, "Screw it!" and it's (knock wood) been working out since. Also, parenting isn't one size fits all, so go with what your gut tells you.
I'm sure our sleep situation will change again in a few months, and when the time comes, I'll be ready for it. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that parenting is nothing if not unpredictable.
Does your toddler sleep on the floor?
Image via abbybatchelder/Flickr